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FAQ Friday: Are backlinks as powerful as they were before Google's updates?

Posted by Jon Ball on May 17, 2013 2:30:20 AM

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Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in our FAQ Friday series. Each Friday, P1P co-owner Jon Ball answers frequently asked link building questions from YOU!


"Are backlinks as powerful as they were before Google's updates?"

I think backlinks are more powerful because now Google doesn't have to deal with as much spam. In other words: let's say four years ago, you could rank a site in Google using spam engines. Spam engines are pieces of SEO software that sign you up for 500 different websites, article websites, social bookmarking websites, podcasts and RSS feeds. You’d hit "Go," go to bed, wake up the next morning and you were ranking in Google.

That was really the case. Sad as it is, that was true. And that's how powerful links are. Well now they've eliminated those links, so good quality links have more value than ever. Now that percentage of value shifted to the relevant, good quality links.

Before, some of the garbage got some of the value. Now it doesn't. Now, stepping back to the entire algorithm, there's a big debate on whether social is going to take over SEO. People are asking “Do Facebook and Twitter mean more now?” That's absolutely ridiculous.

Google can't crawl Facebook and Twitter. It can't go through the JavaScript parts and figure it out. At an event, I heard Matt Cutts speak. I sat five feet from him and he said, "Twitter can shut us off at any time." And they have. Twitter has blocked the Google bot from their site. And he said, "We can't be beholden to a site to rely on our rankings."

The concept he spoke of next is the open web. What the open web means is the trillions and trillions of web pages hosted on millions of servers all across the world giving votes to websites with links. That's how they derive their rankings. That is their stock and trade.

There's no other way that they can get rankings, because it's quite simple: Does the page have relevance to the keyword? Does the title match the search? Does the content on the page have value? With their natural language algorithm, they can read your page and determine if it's written by a human and what grade level they write at. And then, is it original content or is it ripped off from another website? And if you're doing that, you're not going to rank.

Well you might, but it' going to be a hard battle. And then it's estimated that 70% of the rankings are derived from backlink profile. They say, "How many people vote that this page has value?" Now they throw out the garbage links. They don't even count. So like I said before, we are researching a highly lucrative, moderately competitive keyword and it comes down to 241 sites have given them links. That is not a lot.

Considering the value of that keyword, it's probably worth millions.